The ADCI president and Y&R Italy’s former Chairman on growing up in Sicily, modernising an agency and pasta
For the last eight years Vicky Gitto been an integral part of Y&R Italy, most recently as chairman, chief creative officer and global creative board member. That is until he announced his departure from the agency a couple of weeks ago. But he’s still president of the ADCI (the Italian Art Directors Club) and remains a key figure in Italy's creative community.
He’s one of Italy’s most awarded creatives and has led his agency to great successes. In 2017, under Vicky’s direction Y&R, created the most awarded Italian campaign in Cannes, ‘Chat Yourself for age research organisation Italia Longeva. They were also the most awarded EMEA Agency in the Mobile category.
While the industry watches to see where he will take his creative talents next, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with him to hear the story so far and his reflections on the industry.
LBB> What were you like when you were growing up? Were there any clues back then about what you would end up doing for a job?
VG> I was born in the south of Italy, in Sicily to be more precise, a wonderful although tough island where from the first day of your life you have to find a creative solution to solve everything. My grandmother was a teacher with a passion for writing poetry and painting. My grandfather was an entrepreneur. My parents were very young so I enjoyed a lot of time with my beloved grandparents and I learned a lot from both. The most important experience was, for sure, learn how to mix a commercial attitude with the creativity.
LBB> You started your career as a copywriter at BGS D'Arcy, the Agency of the Year at the time. What were your first experiences there?
VG> I joined the agency after winning the first Italian edition of the Cannes Young Lions selection. Before this, I did dozens of interviews without any results but for small studios, so when I finally joined the big agency I was very motivated and I had an incredible experience, managing to win a lot of pitches and awards in just two years. At that time I worked with some of the best creative minds in the country and I learned a lot from them. It has been an intense, unforgettable journey.
LBB> You won six Lions in Cannes in 2017 for 'Chat Yourself' for Italia Longeva, the most awarded Italian campaign in Cannes last year. What was it about that project that made it so successful?
VG> Last year one of the most discussed technologies was the Facebook chatbot. We are continuously exposed to lots of innovation but very often the main problem is how to make it become relevant for a creative project. I believe with ‘Chat Yourself’ we found a way to make this relevant for a very important global issue like Alzheimer's. We embedded an innovative tool into a creative platform, answering a big global need in a very powerful way.
LBB> How has 'Chat Yourself' affected the trajectory of the agency since its success?
VG> It was a crucial moment after years invested creating a forward-thinking creative department. We destroyed the boundaries between the different capabilities in the agency, pushing creatives to work closer with engineers and social media managers. That project was the turning point obtained thanks to all the focus pushed in that direction. With that score, we were definitely acclaimed as one of the most innovative agency despite a very conservative and traditional market.
LBB> Y&R Italy has won a number of awards in the past year in innovation categories and you've spoken publicly on that category’s importance. What do you think is key to making innovation work for a creative idea?
VG> Curiosity, sensibility and knowledge. I think that data and innovations will completely change the structure of our work but I truly believe that they are only a means not the point of arrival. Creativity will still be the secret to make the best strategy work.
LBB> What innovations in technology do you think will open up the most opportunities for advertisers in the coming years?
VG> Online-to-offline, we will move to have more physical brand experiences supported from invisible digital enablers. Looking at the past, it was the opposite.
Today many think that AI will exclude humans. I think we will make the difference, finding ways to collaborate constructively with AI to sustain big global issues.
LBB> Italy has an abundance of historic brands that are respected globally. What is the most important consideration when working with such clients?
VG> Italy is a country with an incredible heritage and a lot of amazing, iconic brands. Today thanks to digital/social platforms and the constant production of innovations, we have the great opportunity to radically revamp the power of these brands and their products. So, I would challenge our industry to not be so conservative so they can be more competitive on a global scale.
LBB> As President of the Italian Art Directors Club, how would you describe the creative community of Italy to outsiders?
VG> Once I laughed a lot at a comment on an Italian campaign on an adblog, saying: “Italians do pasta, not advertising!” In the meantime we faced a big economic crisis, political disasters, superficiality about our role in this industry, but anyhow we are still here, growing year after year in terms of numbers, presence and recognitions even internationally. So today I would say: “Yes we do great pasta. But even better advertising!”
LBB> How do you fill your spare time? Do you have any passions outside of work that occupy your mind?
VG>I love art, design, cinema, but above all I’m addicted to the sense of freedom and infinity given by the sea. Whenever I can, I stop to run into the wheel of my life and I fly to join that blue.